.38 Special:This is a very light-weight (alloy frame) double-action six shot revolver. I paid $400 for this example in 1997.
If you find one of these in "mint condition", it's a great gun to collect and/or carry. Use extreme care in cleaning the finish on this gun. I have seen many examples at gun shows that appear to have thousands of tiny scratch marks from being wiped with the wrong kind of cloth.
It was an earlier version of the Colt Cobra that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. The serial number of Ruby's Colt was 2744LW (note the LW stands for Light-Weight). The Jack Ruby Colt Cobra was returned to his estate many years later and was sold at auction. An anonymous New Jersey gun collector paid $220,000 for it.
Colt Cobra: Nickel plated alloy (15 oz.), .38 six shot revolver. At first glance, the most distinguishing feature is the full-shroud surrounding the ejector rod.
In 2002, I paid $650 for the second one for my wife.
Ocassionally someone will question my collectibility rating system, let me say upfront that I give the Colt Cobra 5 stars as of August 2013 primarily for these reasons: 1) Colt won't make any more of these guns, 2) I believe the younger generation (future collectors) will eventually develop a "liking" of these revolvers, 3) this .38 caliber has staying ability (longevity, unlike the .32), 4) It has the unique feature of being lightweight, but along with that comes the inability of the finish to hold up to years of wear and tear (if you have one with a good finish, you have a jewel) and finally, 5) I think the sight blade, sight-ramp and full shroud give this gun a futuristic look unlike any other and especially for the 1970's.
In summary, I believe the Colt Cobra of the 1970's was Colt's last desperate attempt to redesign an older revolver to keep the public's attention on revolvers. By 1981 the public was already beginning thier love affair with and headed down the road of thinking semiautomatics are king. It is true that Colt continued to produce revolvers after 1981, but they were all nostalgic old designs.
I will admit that I truly love this design and am partial. The firing pin on the hammer is but one feature I love. All prejudice aside, I think this is a gun to collect. Normally I don't disclose what I paid for a gun unless I have either already sold it or have no intention of ever selling it. These Colt Cobras fall into that latter category and therefore I can't give you a graph of the value.
Truth be told, when I bought these guns it was for carrying purposes as much as or more than collecting purposes. Did they double in value every ten years? Not as yet, but I think they will. Take a look at that Colt Vest Pocket Model 1908 page! If you owned that gun for the first 40 years you would have done very poorly. Forty years have passed for my 1974 gun and I believe these guns will come into thier own rightful place in collections worldwide.